November 2001
Black Knight

Reviewed by Wilson Morales

Black Knight

Distributor:20th Century Fox
Director:Gil Junger
Screenwriters:Darryl J. Quarles, Peter Gaulke, Gerry Swallow
Cast:Martin Lawrence, Tom Wilkinson, Marsha Thomason, Vincent Regan

The general consensus within the film industry seems to be that only about five to eight different script archetypes exist from which to make movies. As time goes by, most movies are remakes, sequels, or derivatives of better films. “Black Knight” is a good title, but the plot sounds awfully familiar. The story, about an employee in a medieval theme restaurant who winds up traveling back in time to the Middle Ages, is closely related to the Mark Twain classic, “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court”. Martin Lawrence, for the most part, has had more successes than failures in his short film career. He’s one of the biggest draws in Hollywood, earning a paycheck in the same range as Tom Cruise, Jim Carrey, and now Chris Tucker. But in this oft-repeated story, Lawrence’s persona, the contemporary wisecracks, and funny ideas all feel a bit forced.

Jamal Walker (Lawrence) is an unhappy employee working at Medieval World, a theme park that barely gets customers. After an unfortunate circumstance, Jamal falls into the park’s fetid moat and wakes up in fourteenth century England. He doesn’t know it, but he’s in the middle of a power struggle between the king and his subjects, which includes the knights and peasants. The Middle Ages will never be the same, as Jamal uses twenty-first century street smarts and moves to help those in distress, including a beautiful damsel. The film’s central theme is whether Jamal’s knowledge of the future will allow him to prevail as he walks around town as the Black Knight.

Putting a brother in this setting was definitely a spark in the right direction. This is the first time we’ve seen medieval England with an African-American twist. Lawrence is a talented comedian but his acting was bland to say the least. Just about every line he uttered was forced to make the audience the laugh. Kids may enjoy this, as the jokes are meant for the modern era, but the result is that not enough attention is paid to the story, as Lawrence is front and center constantly. Overall, the jokes don’t fit the film or its intended audience.


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